DroneBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 3:51 PM GMT
See Also: 'Drone' Episode Guide
Seven of Nine and the Doctor accompany Paris and Torres on a shuttle mission inside a plasma nebula. The shuttle is caught in gravometric shear and a risky emergency beamout is performed, damaging the Doctor's portable emitter. Torres and Engineer Mulcahy set up a diagnostic in a science lab and go to bed, but when the Doctor wakes Torres and then interrupts her shower to inquire about the state of the emitter, she sends Mulcahy in to discover that the emitter has interfaced with the ship's computer. A Borg-like tube shoots out of the emitter, penetrating his neck. In her regeneration chamber, Seven's Borg transceiver alerts her to the presence of Borg; when she informs the bridge crew, they discover that the signal emanates from the science lab.
Seven, Tuvok, and a security team enter the lab to find Mulcahy unconscious and a variation on a Borg gestation chamber set up in the lab. Inside the chamber is a fetus with Mulcahy's DNA and Seven's nanoprobes, using the Doctor's emitter as an integral part of its cerebral cortex. The 29th-century technology has interfaced with Seven's nanoprobes, which contaminated it during the beam-out, and created a Borg unlike any Seven has ever seen before. It is growing at a greatly accelerated rate. Janeway refuses to terminate it, arguing that if the crew gives it purpose and individuality, they can keep it from the Collective, but Seven warns her that the drone has internal transporter nodes and other technological advances which make it highly dangerous. Janeway points out that the crew initially had similar fears about Seven herself, and orders the ex-Borg to instruct the drone in human behavior.
When Seven tries to interface with the activated drone, he demands a designation and hurts her. She resorts to using Borg data nodes to feed him information, which he accepts greedily, but he still wants a designation and information about the Borg. He has a hard time understanding her explanation that they are unique individuals, not part of the Collective. When the Doctor explains his origin to the drone, he realizes that his creation was an accident, and decides to help the crew, solving a difficult engineering problem for an initially hostile Torres. When Seven introduces him to Janeway, he tells her that his designation is One, and she congratulates him on becoming part of the crew so fast. Seven warns her privately that he wants to contact the Collective, but Janeway says they're better off educating him about the Borg than trying to repress him.
When Seven and One regenerate, his emitter overrides her adjustments to turn off his homing signal, and he contacts the Borg. Seven is awakened by Janeway and the senior staff, who inform her that a Borg ship is on an intercept course. They fill One in on their experiences with the Borg. One wants to experience the mind of the hive, but when Janeway says, "No, you don't," he asks Seven whether she wishes to rejoin the Collective. Seven says that Voyager is her collective. One agrees to help defend against the long-range tactical probe ship with transwarp capabilities, modulating the shields and boosting the phasers, but the Borg ship is too powerful; it nearly destroys Voyager. In desperation, One beams over to the vessel and interfaces directly with the Borg technology, causing the ship to implode.
In the wreckage, Voyager finds One's life signs and he is beamed to sickbay. But though his nanoprobes are regenerating, his biological matter is dying, and One refuses to let the Doctor attempt to repair him because his existence represents a threat to Voyager's crew. Seven is distressed, but One tells her that his existence is an accident which puts them all at risk, and creates a forcefield around himself so that they cannot operate. After his death, she goes to the cargo bay and regretfully turns off his equipment.
"Drone" was extraordinarily well-done, despite a smattering of inconsistencies with previous shows about the Borg. It's easily my favorite Seven of Nine episode to date, and Jeri Ryan gave a moving and credible performance, though J. Paul Boehmer's portrayal of One made him the focus of every scene he was in. His walk and talk reminded me of the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, which made him immediately sympathetic despite the Borg hardware (smoother and sleeker than the Borg we're used to, though I don't understand how nanoprobes could have duplicated so much of the 29th-century materials in such a short time, nor why Seven said the Borg do not reproduce through fetal cultivation when we saw on TNG that they do). He made a convincing child despite looking older than Seven herself, and his farewell was emotionally charged though played with great restraint.
Science fiction shows seem to have a perverse obsession with turning women into mothers against their wills: they did it to Deanna Troi, they did it to Kira Nerys, they did it to Dana Scully, they did it to Xena's Gabrielle, so I was really in dread of Seven of Nine's maternal instincts. The show was blissfully restrained in that regard, too, though I was surprised that neither the Doctor nor poor Mulcahy was permitted more contact with their "offspring." The Doctor accepted the potentially permanent loss of his emitter with admirable grace after throwing a fit initially about its absence (thus permitting a gratuitous shot of Roxann Dawson in her nightgown, and then topless). But I wonder whether we're going to see him next week with the emitter back in place and no explanation of its recovery and decontamination; the thought that they will have to cut it out of One's skull is rather grisly.
In general this episode seemed a little rushed - it featured one of Trek's patented instantly-maturing children, after all - and wasted a little too much time having Seven and One recite Borg cliches rather than engaging in dialogue which might have illuminated their growing rapport. But Janeway came across particularly strongly, which was very important after last week's crisis of command - I like it when she takes risks with the ship in the name of new life, rather than out of some urge to look benevolent as in last season's "Prey." She's not entirely consistent with the captain from "Tuvix," but that's okay. I am always a little uncomfortable with how easily "human values" are substituted for Federation values on this series, but it worked here with the Borg collective (and a ship which resembled the Borg queen's) as contrast. And Neelix was the most human of them all - a nice touch of character growth for a character who started out as comic relief.
Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.